July 4th in Paradise


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fireworks from Sand Island

Our July 4 celebrations began on July 3 when we headed down to Honolulu to check out the fireworks. We opted to watch from the Sand Island Coast Guard Station where all the boats are tied up. Kenny was on duty so we ended up watching from an upper deck on his buoy tender, Kakui.


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The day before had been Liz’s birthday, but she’d been on duty on her boat so she wasn’t able to celebrate. To make up for it, I made a birthday cake for her on the 3rd. Initially I hid the cake in a kitchen drawer. (The drawers really are that big — you should see the kitchen.) Just before we were going to head out to the fireworks show, I moved it to the laundry room so that we could light it in secret and bring it into the kitchen. That’s where the plan fell apart.

Apparently the one thing Liz had to do before leaving was get her laundry out of the dryer. So Brian and I were in the kitchen whispering about when to do the cake and waiting for Liz to get out of the laundry room before she saw the cake, which was covered inconspicuously with foil and hiding in a corner. She finally came out and all was well, until she went back into the laundry room to get something she’d forgotten. That’s when we heard, “Hey what’s this?” from the laundry room.

“Ohhhhhhhhhh. Hahahaha.” is all we heard from the laundry room. Our plan was foiled,  but she was touched and there was nothing we could do but laugh. We ended up lighting the candles right then and taking the cake to the boat with us. It was a vegan recipe I was trying for the first time and it ended up being a big hit.

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Liz and her birthday cake

We had a great seat for the fireworks that night, though they were a bit smaller than I had hoped. There were a lot of families around the Island, though, so it was nice to be in that July 4th atmosphere. Before we left, Kenny gave us a quick tour of his boat which was fun. I hadn’t been on any Coast Guard ships besides Brian’s which was docked nearby so it was cool to check out something smaller.

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Brian’s boat is on the right, the National Security Cutter Stratton

On July 4 itself, a group of us went to see the Battleship Missouri in Pearl Harbor in the morning, which was really cool and I’ll describe in a different post.   we went back to the house for a cookout. This was ‘Murica day, though, so we had to do it right. Which means Brian grilled up 4 lbs of hamburger.

Our drink of choice was margarita, bucket style, since this was a special occasion and all.

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The margarita bucket was chilled in the kegerator.

We also had baked brie, ‘Murica fruit pizza, vegetable kebabs, and a variety of sides like grilled pineapple, potato salad, and corn on the cob. There were a few hours in the afternoon when the kitchen became a well oiled machine as 8 or 10 of us did all the food prep all at once. We hadn’t really discussed the plan ahead of time, but everyone took on some aspect of the meal and it somehow worked out.

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‘Murica fruit pizza

After the food was ready we moved the party outside to enjoy the grill, pool, and margaritas du bucket. A handful of other Coast Guard ensigns and cadets came over a little later to round out the party. A huge success overall. Happy birthday America!

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pool party

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